The mask-shamers are out in full force in the nation’s capital, now that the Senate is back in session. One of them ran into the buzzsaw that is Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan on Monday.
Sullivan was presiding over the Senate when Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, was winding up to disparage a Trump nominee he doesn’t like. But he began his remarks by criticizing the presiding officer’s lack of face attire.
“I start by asking the presiding officer to wear a mask,” Brown said to Sullivan.
“I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking,” Sullivan interrupted. “And I don’t need your instruction.”
The mask that Sullivan usually wears was in his hand in front of him when Brown asked him to put it on. It was a display of public bullying on Brown’s part, something not usually seen on the Senate floor, where decorum is valued.
In Congress, lawmakers almost always remove their masks when they are at a microphone. But just as many of them don’t handle their masks properly. Brown is an example of poor mask hygiene. While he was pacing and speaking during his several minutes at the microphone, he kept his mask on but repeatedly handled it and put his hand alongside the edge where his breath was ventilating, as he lectured Sen. Sullivan about not having his mask on his face.
The irony is that Sullivan wears a mask in public wherever possible and only removes it for limited periods of time, mainly when at a microphone or when he needs to be heard.
Brown, fiddling with his mask, continued complaining about having to be in Washington, D.C.:
“We have a majority leader who calls us back here to vote on an unqualified nominee and, at the same time, to vote for judge after judge after judge, exposing all the people who can’t say anything … and expose all the staff here. The majority leader just doesn’t seem to care.”
After Brown’s speech, Sullivan took off his mask, adjourned the Senate, and then put his mask back on.